LAND close to St Michael's Golf Course is being earmarked as a possible site for the construction of Halton's new 'super college'.
Campaigners fighting the merger between Widnes and Runcorn Sixth Form College and Halton College claim the site has been selected for development because of its attractive transport links and accessibility for students.
Mark Wasenczuk, a former teacher of 30 years at Widnes and Runcorn Sixth Form's Cronton campus who is spearheading the campaign, said: 'I believe land close to St Michael's is being looked for development as it has good links from the motorways and the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge.
'A lot of students travel to college in Widnes from Speke, Huyton and Liverpool, and therefore the site would be ideal and easy for students to get there.'
However, Mr Wasenczuk is hoping his campaign will scupper the proposed amalgamation and prevent the borough's biggest ever education shake-up.
He added: 'The petition is really gathering pace. The reason why it is gaining momentum now is because the majority of students in Widnes simply did not know about the plans.
'In fact students at Widnes Sixth Form College were being kept totally in the dark, even though they are the people that it will be most affected. This has inflamed the situation as Halton FE College has known the plans for some time.
'From what I can see there are no educational reasons behind this merger and I am getting some really positive feedback from past students and staff who want to keep Widnes Sixth Form College alive.'
Mr Wasenczuk claims one reason behind the merger is the development prospects at the Cronton Lane site which could be sold for housing.
He also alleges that Halton Borough Council has a 'need' to replace the 'worn out' FE college on Kingsway.
Mr Wasenczuk said: 'With a takeover there will no doubt be some asset stripping. When the new building becomes available the Cronton Lane site will become surplus to requirements.
'The site is a prime site for residential homes. Which local developer is waiting in the wings with the right purchase price in order to help fund the new building?
'The intentions are very doubtful. It is just down to expediency and economical reasons.
'There are more than 1,200 students with the Sixth Form and all of them will feel the changes. Although they have set a three-year lead in period with the aims at not disrupting their education I feel that they cannot do that.'
'Plans not in best interest of students'
COUNCILLOR Carl Cross, of Farnworth Ward, is also backing the mammoth petition which is set to achieve a total of several hundred names.
He said: 'I am not very happy about the proposal of a merger as I do not think the plans set out are in the best interests of the students.
'We do not know exactly how much the site in Cronton is worth, but we do believe that is a sizeable amount and we believe that this could have something to do with the plans.
'Mark and I have triggered this whole petition off and we are getting a lot of support from a lot of people - we hope we can make an impact.'